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Illuminate SF shines a light on San Francisco's glowing artworks

The Illuminate SF Light Art Festival returns this month with 16 sculptures around San Francisco that glow with extraordinary energy.

The fest, now in its second year, showcases public artworks installed around the city as well as temporary pieces recently put up. And it's all free.

"This opportunity for residents and visitors from all over the world to enjoy and experience these works of art for free throughout the holidays and celebrate the power of light is something that should not be missed," Joe D’Alessandro, chief executive of San Francisco Travel, says in a statement.

If you've been to the Bay Area recently, chances are you've seen some of these light works already; many are installed at terminals at San Francisco International Airport.

But here's a chance to check off a mini-bucket list of these art pieces.

"The Bay Lights," by Leo Villareal -- the LED lights that dance along the western span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge -- is one of the stars for Illuminate SF....

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Just before Latin Grammys, Ricky Martin's wax double unveiled in Vegas

Just ahead of the Latin Grammys, Ricky Martin’s wax likeness was unveiled Wednesday in Las Vegas.

Boasting a thicker beard and a few more wrinkles than his wax double, Martin posed for pictures at Madame Tussauds Las Vegas at the Venetian

Martin told reporters it took 3 1/2 hours for designers to take photos and measurements for the wax figure.

“You guys are very precise, very particular,” he told the Madame Tussauds sculptors. "It was really amazing. Look at the teeth, the nose.”

Martin is in Las Vegas to perform at Thursday night’s Latin Grammy Awards. The ceremony will air at 8 p.m. on Univision.

The Puerto Rican singer’s likeness will remain on display on the Strip until it takes up permanent residence at Madame Tussauds Orlando. The Florida Tussauds is to open in the spring.

Follow us on Twitter at @latimestravel

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Visiting the governor's mansion in Sacramento? Go before Jan. 1

No one really lives in the governor's mansion in Sacramento. But if you're one of the 30,000 people who visit, make sure you go soon.

The ornate, 32-room Victorian-style home at 1526 H. St. will close temporarily on Jan. 1 for extensive renovations.

Electrical, plumbing, heating, air-conditioning and fire-suppression systems will be upgraded at a cost of $2.5 million, the California Department of Parks and Recreation said Wednesday.

No reopening date was given, but a spokeswoman says the work is expected to be completed within 2015.

It's the second recent renovation for the house built in 1877, the announcement says. Last year the third floor of the mansion, which had been closed, was renovated and opened to the public.

Ongoing painting and floor work will be done inside the house before the next project starts. Historic furniture, pictures and artifacts have been removed for protection during the work.

The home, part of Governor's Mansion State Historic Park, has housed 13 governors,...

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46-million Americans, the most in 7 years, to travel over Thanksgiving

Love having company for Thanksgiving? Good, because you'll have plenty of it. More than 46-million Americans are expected to drive or fly to their destination this year, the highest number of Thanksgiving  travelers since pre-recession 2007.

AAA Travel's Thanksgiving Forecast says almost 90% of travelers will be driving 50 miles or more from home. The average round-trip holiday drive is estimated at 549 miles.

The good news for drivers: Gas prices remain low. While the average U.S. price of gas is less than $3 a gallon, the California average is $3.21 a gallon — still lower than last year's Thanksgiving prices.

Fliers, however, aren't so lucky. They're paying 8% more for hotel rooms and 10% more for car rentals this year. AAA predictions cover the holiday period from Nov. 26th through Nov. 30th.

How to best navigate your way through holiday traffic?

Google Maps compiled Thanksgiving traffic data collected in 21 cities over the last two years to forecast what might be in store for...

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At Disneyland, 'Frozen' characters are icing on holiday festivities

The 2013 Disney blockbuster "Frozen" and its characters play a big role in this year's holiday season at Disneyland.

If you're visiting the Anaheim park between now and Jan. 6, expect to see the 60-foot-tall Christmas tree in Disneyland's town square and other once-a-year events and decorations.

First off, sisters Anna and Elsa as well as Olaf the snowman join the Christmas Fantasy Parade which marks its 20th year at Disneyland. Santa and Minnie and Mickey Mouse are featured too in the march along Main Street.

The parade starts at 5:45 p.m. Monday through Thursdays and 3 and 5:45 p.m. Friday through Sunday. (Parades are added Christmas week and other times; check the online schedule before you go.)

Olaf and songs from "Frozen" are featured in the return of "World of Color: Winter Dreams" at Disney California Adventure Park.

The outdoor show brings clips of Disney films, songs and characters projected on a 19,000-square-foot water screen. It's accompanied by 1,200 fountains, fog and...

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Hawaii volcano puts on a show, but travelers won't have ringside seat

Anyone hoping to witness Kilauea’s most recent drama up close is out of luck.

Kilauea, the Big Island volcano that’s been spewing lava for more than 30 years, in June let loose a stream of lava from a newly opened vent on its east side. The lava flowed 13 1/2 miles before stalling in late October. On Nov. 10, a localized breakout destroyed a house in Pahoa, in the isolated Puna district on the eastern tip of the island.

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For the Record
Nov. 20, 10:48 a.m.:
This post incorrectly reports that only scientists and media have access to the Pahoa area. The restricted access applies to the lava flow, not the general area.
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Pahoa remains threatened, but it’s impossible to know when — or even whether — the molten rock might engulf this town of fewer than 1,000 people.

In fact, except for a couple of detour signs, you’d never know that the lava was expected to reach State Route 130, the main thoroughfare in or out of the district.

Yes, some businesses have closed, but for...

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